'Like Being 19': A Lifetime Spent Together

Bobbi Cote-Whitacre (left) with Sandi Cote-Whitacre at StoryCorps in Vermont.

Bobbi Cote-Whitacre (left) with Sandi Cote-Whitacre at StoryCorps in Vermont. They are holding a portrait taken in the years after their relationship began in 1967. StoryCorps hide caption

itoggle caption StoryCorps

Sandi Cote-Whitacre and Bobbi Cote-Whitacre have been together for nearly 40 years.

The two met when they were very young. As Bobbi asked her partner recently, "Do you remember what it was like when we were 19 and totally in love — and couldn't tell anyone?"

While the couple knew immediately that they would spend the rest of their lives together, the people around them weren't so accepting.

After moving to a small town in Ohio, their relationship was revealed. Bobbi's mother gave them three days to leave town, Sandi recalls, "so that we wouldn't disgrace your father, his practice, your extended family."

Despite that reaction, Sandi and Bobbi stayed together, and after 33 years they were joined in a Vermont Civil Union ceremony, finally announcing their commitment to each other out loud.

But there was one condition set for the occasion: Bobbi's mother insisted that she walk her daughter down the aisle. Her demand came despite a recent diagnosis of a brain hemorrhage.

"And this was the same woman," they said in unison, "that gave us three days to get out of town."

Four years after their Vermont ceremony, Bobbi, 58, and Sandi, 59, were officially married in Massachusetts. And having their friends and family there, Sandi says, "was sort of like being 19 again."

This story was produced for 'Morning Edition' by Katie Simon.

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